Monday, April 26, 2010

Why do some come to Christ and not others? Part 3

The Judgment

31"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32"All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' 37"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 40"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

Being on God's "right" is a place of favor. How does a person get himself in God's favor? This question should lead you to remember the definition of grace; undeserved favor. And it is exactly that.
How does a person make himself "blessed of My Father"? This very phrase tells a lot. Jesus doesn't say, "Come you who earned my Father's blessing by choosing Me." It is clear that the Father chose to bless this group of people and pour out His grace on them.
Notice that is also says, "inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world". This leaves me wondering; Where were you in the time of the foundation of the world? Well theres only one place you could possibly have been, and that is in God's omniscient, gracious foreknowledge, heart and mind. Not just the forknowledge of information, but knowing you intimitely "from the foundation of the world". Isn't that awesome? Well, only if you care to be known by God at all.

The passage goes on to explain how these people who were foreknown by God, live a life that evidences that they have been "blessed of My Father". They live this way because of the unmerited favor of God upon their lives. God chose them, prepared a kingdom for them, poured out His wrath upon His Son on their behalf, formed them in their mother's womb, pulled them out of grip of demons, covered their sins, caused them to be born again with a new heart that is alive to God, walked with them every step of the way as a new creation in Christ, disciplined them and formed them into the image of Christ, and will bring all of them to glory in the end. Amen

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Why do some come to Christ and not others? Part 2

John 17 - starting at verse 1 "When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You, since You have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent....."
v6. "I have manifested Your name to the people whom You gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and You gave them to me, and they have kept Your word."

Jesus also continues in His prayer to the Father and mentions that all whom the Father has given Him have believed and have kept His word. He also says that He has guarded them and kept them.

I find it interesting that shortly after I became a disciple of Christ, I truly believed that I just got tired of the party scene and finally decided to give my life to Christ. While all of that was true, I now know, thanks to the Holy Spirit's illuminating grace, that I belonged to the Father long before I chose to belong to Christ. It truly is a beautiful truth that the Father gave me to the Son, who took my wrath on the cross and stands at the right hand of the throne of God interceding for me. He is my advocate who defends me to my accuser, Satan. The Father then drew me to the Son by His Spirit, granted me the gift of faith and caused me to be born of God.

It was only by this gift of faith that I could believe God when He said how depraved I was. It was only by this gift of faith that I could believe God when He said that Jesus is the only way. It was only by this gift of faith that I could believe God's very first promise to me; "anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved". It was only by this gift of faith that I agreed with God about my sin and that I needed to turn from it or it will destroy me.

Praises to our merciful God!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Why do some come to Christ and not others?

Another way to ask this question is, "Why do some get saved and not others?"
This, interesting enough, fits right in with where i left off on my last post. This question brings up a lot of other good topics of discusion. Not for the sake of debate but truly for the study of scripture to really see what it says about our God and how we are to respond to HIM.

Today while I was on my lunch break, I decided to do a mini bible study on this question. I was drawn to the book of John as I was listening to a Jonathon Edwards sermon in my truck. I stopped the cd and started reading John. I started at John 6:37 where it reads,

"All that the Father gives me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out."
Then i kept reading and I ran into verse 44 which reads "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him."
In this passage we see not only how people come to Christ, but we also see today's modern view of God in salvation debunked. First let's look at what is proved to be false by this passage.

1. That Jesus is somehow powerlessly hoping, begging and waiting for sinners to come to Him and be saved (without much luck since not many are saved in the end). That He is some sort of "Bruce Almighty" type god who can't mess with mankind's "free will". This gives the implication that man's will is supreme over God's will and that God "can't touch that one". As if it is completely up to mankind to initiate, independant from God, the union with Christ for salvation.

2. That we who are in Christ, somehow decided to get smart and finally answer the call of Christ by our own will power and determination. How many Christians are full of pride because they believe they made the choice to follow Christ by their own determination. That they finally "let Jesus come in".

3. That others, who have not "made that choice" are more deserving of God's judgement than we are.

Now let's look again at what it does say. Notice the repeated phrase, "comes to Me". Who comes to Christ? Who does not come to Him? Who is able to come to Christ? Who is not able?
Look what it says, "No one can come to Me...". Why do you suppose Jesus says this? Well because it's true of course. It is this very same Jesus who revealed this very same truth to Paul. Paul penned this truth to the Romans in Romans 3:11 when he says "No one seeks for God". So here we see the problem. No one can come to Christ because no one wants to. That is what is lacking in the human will, namely, a desire for God. But He also continues by saying "No one can come to Me unless the Father, who sent Me, draws him".

John gives us an insight earlier in his book as to how people "recieve Christ". He says "But to all who did recieve Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (1:12). This couldn't be any clearer in stating that when a man beleives or receives Christ, they are "born" because of the "will" of God. It was not brought about because of the will of man or a decision of man but because God determined it to happen. This should humble us to say that God is the only seeker. That Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. Jesus accomplished the task for which the Father sent him. Not that He came and died and rose again for the hope that some would seek Him. Look at the whole passage in John 6 starting at verse 37;
"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For i have come down from heaven , not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my FAther that everone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and i will raise him up on the last day.
So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven" They said , "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?How does he now say, "I have come down from heaven?" Jesus answered then, "Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day."

To be continued...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Born of God

I have been looking into this concept of being born agian, born of God, regenerated, converted, repentance, forgiven and saved.

I have been doing a study of the definitions of forgiveness and salvation. The very definition of forgive is to cancel a debt. The definition of saved is delivered and spared.
In this blog, I would like to deal with the concept of being forgiven.
Question; when were you forgiven?

What happened on the cross? Was not our sin debt cancelled? Were we not forgiven at the cross? "But wait", you say, "I was forgiven when i asked for forgiveness that day when i said that prayer.". Think about it. Was it your prayer that cancelled your sin debt?

Think of it this way; Can a judge forgive a criminal based on the criminal's plea for forgiveness? You know that a just judge can not. Only if the criminal's fine is paid for. We broke God's moral law and Jesus paid our fine right? If this is true, then it's not that God wants to forgive you but He cant until you repent. It is that He has already settled the score, paid your sin debt and forgiven you on the cross. The question is, have you recieved this forgiveness?

Here is another way to put it; Forgiveness is a pre-wrapped gift, ready to be given to anyone who will admit that they need it. God has already forgiven you. You may not have experienced His forgiveness yet. But He already forgave you. You were already off the hook in God's eyes. The problem is, most people arent really convinced that they are the sinners that Christ died for. If you asked a big majority of proffessing christians why Jesus had to die for them, you they would probably say something like, "Because of our sins". Then you ask them "Like what exactly?" and most people could not tell you what they have done that was so bad that the Son of God had to be tortured and murdered on their behalf.

Let's just say that I hurt you or offended you in some serious way. Bad enough that our relationship has been broken. You decide that you are going to forgive me and consider my sin against you as good as gone because you love me that much. And let's just say that because you have forgiven me, the next time you see me you treat me with gentleness and kindness and say "I just wanted to let you know that you hurt me really bad when you.... but I forgive you." And I proceeded to tell you that what i did wasn't really that bad, that you are blowing it out of proportion and "frankly you just need to get over it and stop trying to make me feel guilty". And even worse, i kept doing the same thing that hurt you to begin with. I am already forgiven by you right? But what is missing? My repentance right? And what will my true remorse and change toward you bring about? It will bring about reconciliation between us. That will also be the point when I will experience the blessing of your forgiveness. You were so ready to give the gift of forgiveness to me but I couldn't admitt that I did anything wrong in order to need any forgivness.

This is my point. I think many have not truly experience God's forgivness. I think many have not truly been reconciled to God because they have never come to the point of remorse and contrition to the point of change over their sin against the Almighty.

I believe that when a person is reconciled to God, he is changed forever and is born agian (regenerated).
Now does this mean that all are forgiven? Is everybody saved? Obviously not. But I will have to clarify this next time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rest in being a child

I want to just write down what the Lord has been speaking to me about.

Recently, a friend of mine handed me a book called "Justification and Regeneration". It explains what happened when we placed our trust in Christ and what it means to be justified and made a new creature. The truths taught in this book have been life changing.

A few years ago I did a in depth study in the bible on the topic of "eternal security". I had always thought that once you were saved you still had the choice to "divorce God", as I would say, and lose your salvation. I got stuck on the passage in Hebrews 6:4-6 for a while as I studied the original Greek words. I tried talking to a couple leaders in my life about it but no one seemed to help my thought process.

As two years went by, God took the time to walk me through this patiently, one step at a time. I didn't know it at the time but in thinking that I could lose my salvation, I lacked peace about who God was to me and who I was in Him. I had an underlining feeling that it was up to me to keep my relationship with God. My understanding of justification was very shallow. I thought "Ya He sees me as "just if I'd never sinned" but I'm still a sinner." I never really thought about that statement being a contradiction. Justification doesn't just mean that on the day of conversion, God declares you innocent until you sin again. It means that He declares you to be innocent once and for all time. Not only that but He creates a whole new person out of you. He changes you from someone who loved being a criminal, so to speak, to someone who loves to obey. He give you a new nature.

One huge piece of this that is changing my whole perspective is that salvation is His work. He wooed me, broke me, killed me, buried me, created a whole new me, and now keeps me until the very end. What choice did I have in this? It was all Him. And since it was all Him, it will continue to be all Him. I can just cease. Cease striving and know that He is GOD. Nothing is up to me. Nothing! I can now change my prayer from, "Lord what can I do today?" to "Father You are doing a work today, I just want to be with You.".

I really feel like the pressure is off. Jesus' yoke is easy and His burden is light.

"Now to Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." Jude 24, 25

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sat. street witnessing

Pre-Game Story. Before I even headed out to meet you guys, I ran into my neighbor who saw my Jesus shirt which prompted him to ask about Jesus. I didn't share what Jesus did for him. Man, can you imagine an easier witnessing encounter? The guy meantions Jesus, asked what religion I am, and I still didn't share the gospel with him. I went in the house and Bre asked me if I shared my faith with him. I said "He caught me off guard.". She said "Ryan you have gospel tracts in your pocket.". I laughed and replied, "Well I mean i didn't get to pray and spend time in the word.". She said "You mean like we just did this morning?". What I realized is that I was showing partiality.

You see I've worried in the past about this guy being a sexual preditor towards my wife and kids. My desire for this guy's salvation was small. If only I had the heart of God and saw him as He saw Saul as he preyed on His children. As I walked to meet you, I opened up "Way of the Master Minute". The first one opened to in the middle of the book said, "Caught off guard.".

Game time. I loved the preparation time. We huddled in and turned to Jesus as we prepared to tell people about Him. I was glad we split up. I could sense right off the bat that the first girl felt mobbed. As we walked in our group of three, It still wasn't what I was used to. All other witnessing I had ever done, had been alone. I also never really used tracts before so the first thing I was worried about was what to say as I handed one out. I decided that "Have you seen these?" was my best bet for now. People usually responded with, "What is it?". Then I would say, "It is a gospel tract.". If they seemed willing to talk I would ask them, "Ever think about what happens after you die?" I found that people did not like the "ticket to heaven or ticket to hell" tract when I handed it to them "ticket to hell" side up. Imagine that...... Someone being offended at your desire for their eternal damnation. I think I'll pay attention to which side is up next time since it is heaven I wish for them hoping they will not choose the alternative.

I was sweating as we walked down the unshaded side of sixth street. After I had been rejected by an older couple, I looked up and saw a couple of young girls walking away from Dave ripping up a tract and saying "Oh it's about God, then... (rip)! I guess I'm going to hell!" I thought, "This is going to be interesting." I did not get discouraged though. I remembered Jesus' promise that the world will hate you because they first hated Him. The first good one to one was with some highschoolers. My favorite. One of which was a girl named Sarah who used to go to our church. As one kid claimed Christ, Dave, used the law right away to make sure he understood what he was claiming. I talked to Sarah a little and felt it was an appointment made by God to encourage the faith that she did have. I also had a moment when I felt almost as if I was open air preaching to the four of them for about one minute. I don't recall the names of the three boys. We got them thinking and the seed was planted.

Another one to one was with another few highschool boys. Yippee. Their names were Billy, Jr. and another kid who sat on the ground tearing up our tract. This one went ok. I started with the "Good card". We talked to Billy the most. He had a lot of questions. Jr. was also sceptical. About ten minutes into the conversation Billy said, "Actually I don't believe in God". He also claimed that his soul was of no importance to him. I reasoned with him on that one and he admitted that deep down, he really does care about his soul. I gave Billy and Jr. extra Lee Stroble tracts and a bible. He said would not read it but we instisted that he as least take it home.

Jay and Keith were brothers. I handed Keith a "ticket to heaven or ticket to hell" tract. He said "Sir, why have you just given me a ticket to Hell?" I said "oh it actually explains the gospel on both sides. See?" Keith was confident that he would go to heaven after he died. Jay stayed silent. After Dave engaged Keith, I swung around to talk to Jay. Jay listened very intently. It seemed to make sense to him. He knew he needed to repent and trust Jesus.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Luke 13:1-9

I will be meditating on this passage this week

Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.
And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were {greater} sinners than all {other} Galileans because they suffered this {fate?}
"I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
"Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were {worse} culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem?
"I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
And He {began} telling this parable: "A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any.
"And he said to the vineyard-keeper, 'Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?'
"And he answered and said to him, 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer;
and if it bears fruit next year, {fine;} but if not, cut it down.' "